04 Mar 2019


Why do we have sworn translations?

 In Serbia, a court interpreter or a sworn translator is a person licensed by the Ministry of Justice to certify translated documents, whereby each certified translation represents an official document. A court interpreter or sworn translator is a person who has passed a certification exam and sworn an oath before the Ministry of Justice. They are authorized to use a 38-milimeter round stamp, with their first and last name, their title and the time, date and language they were appointed, to certify the translated documents, thus validating that the translated version is identical to the original document.

Without this type of certification, performed only by certified or sworn translators, any document translated by a regular translator, would not be held valid by the official institutions as an official document.

Sworn translators have an extremely responsible and “touchy” task translating and certifying documents, as one small typo is sufficient to declare the said document invalid (for example, a wrong social security or ID number).

Who is in need of sworn translators?

 Individuals, companies, as well as courts need and use the services of sworn (certified) translators. Individuals usually need certified translations of personal documents, diplomas, various certificates, wills, licenses, letters of confirmation, and so on.

As a rule, the companies need certified translations more often, due to various documents they deal with, which require translation and certification, and also due to doing business in the international markets more frequently. Working in the foreign markets necessitates the translation of various contracts, tenders and similar business documents. On the other hand, more and more foreigners doing business in Serbia need all the paperwork required for establishing and registering companies translated and certified.

What do you need in order to get a certified translation?

A client needs to clearly state what the translated document will be used for and provide the original document or its certified copy. It is very important to emphasize the fact that a sworn translator guarantees only for the validity of the translation and that he/she is not competent for any other certification requests.

In case a client is not able to provide the source document, the certified translation will contain a note that the translation was done based on the copy of the document.

What does a certified document look like?

Each page of the translated document has to contain the seal of the sworn translator, and all of the pages must be tied together using a security cord made of red, blue and white threads used to tie together official documents (also called red tape in some countries).

If the document contains two or more pages, each page has to be enumerated, stamped in the bottom right corner, and all the pages need to be “sewn” together using the aforementioned security cord, the ends of which are then tied together at the back of the document and sealed together using a sticker with a seal imprint.

Why is all this “sewing up” necessary?

The validity of the translated document is confirmed by the seal, signature of the sworn translator, and in addition, by tying together the original or certified copy of the source document and the translation, and this is done using the said security cord, in accordance with the Serbian law.

This tying of documents serves the official institutions to clearly indicate which translation belongs to which source document. There are small differences, depending on the destination country or the purpose for which the certified translation will be used (sometimes it is the source document which is tied to the translation, other times it is the copy of the source document, while the source document is provided for inspection purposes). Sometimes, though, these documents need to be submitted separately. If the copy of the Serbian source document needs to be submitted, it has to be certified (by a notary public, court or municipality) – and the certification text has to be translated as well.

And then we get to the almighty Apostille!

The Apostille Convention, or the Apostille Treaty, is an international treaty which specifies the modalities through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states. A certification under the terms of the convention is called an apostille or Hague Apostille. It is an international certification comparable to a notarization in domestic law, and normally supplements a local notarization of the document. The apostille itself is a stamp or printed form consisting of 10 numbered standard fields.

It is of utmost importance to check if your document needs to be certified with an Apostille because this needs to be done before you submit the document for certified translation, since the text of the Apostille also needs to be translated and certified.

In order to save time and money, please inquire about all the details in advance, before submitting your documents for translation.

Procedures you might have not heard about

When you need a specific certification by a specific court, it requires that your translated documents contain the stamp and signature of the sworn translator appointed by that very court, so it is essential to find out in advance if this is required.

In some cases, the presence of the court interpreter is required by law. For example, in the following cases, it is necessary to have the court interpreter present:

  • If one of the spouses is a foreign citizen and does not speak Serbian, it is required that a certified court interpreter be present during marriage solemnization at the wedding ceremony, but also at the registrar’s office when scheduling the wedding date.
  • When a foreign citizen needs to sign a document at the court or municipality offices.
  • When a foreign citizen needs to validate the contracts or other documents they signed for the use of official institutions.

In general, should a foreign citizen not speaking Serbian be required to appear before the court or certify any documents, the presence of a court interpreter is mandatory.

The documents that are most often translated and certified:

  • Contracts
  • Certificates
  • Personal IDs
  • Diplomas and confirmation letters
  • Extracts from the registries
  • Powers of attorney
  • Police reports
  • Medical reports
  • Tenders
  • Statements
  • Various certificates and agreements
  • Bank statements
  • Birth, death and marriage certificates
  • Various university and school record transcripts
  • Resumes/CVs
  • Driving and other licenses
  • Business Registers Agency files
  • Decisions and transcripts
  • Lawsuits, appeals and rulings
  • Registration files when establishing a company